‘Talking to someone who was in my exact same shoes’

In Fall 2017, the DTH Alumni Association debuted a mentorship program that paired nearly 60 alumni with student mentees. Mentor-mentee pairs have chatted on the phone and over email and are preparing to meet in person during the 125th birthday celebration.

Two current DTH students, University Editor Leah Asmelash and Audio Editor Cole del Charco, write about what the mentorship program has meant to them so far. Leah’s mentor is Andrew Dunn, ’10, and Cole’s mentor is Nick Andersen, ’12.

Cole writes:

When I heard about the DTH mentor program I was ecstatic for an opportunity to connect with someone in the field of journalism, but I wasn’t sure how it would work out, since I’m interested in audio journalism. I didn’t know how many DTH alums who worked in audio. My mentor, Nick Andersen, is one of them. He has been so helpful to point me to people, podcasts and newsrooms I should try to work for, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

He even let me stay with him in Boston during a short trip I had to visit the city. Not only did Nick let me crash at his place, but also he put me in touch with people he knew all across public radio in Boston and took me to his workplace at WGBH.

Nick won’t tout his successes or experience, but he’s used everything he’s learned since working at the DTH to point me forward in my career, and he’s the best mentor I could ask for. He’s always helpful in our phone calls and is ever-encouraging and supportive of me despite how obviously new I am to public radio. I’ve benefitted greatly from having Nick as my mentor.

Leah writes:

The first time my mentor and I talked, I was fittingly in The Daily Tar Heel office. I was a bit nervous, because my mentor was a former University Desk editor, and I was just starting out in the same position and didn’t really know what I was doing yet. But, looking back, I had nothing to fear.

My mentor was incredibly helpful with every question I had. He gave me tips on what to look for when covering the university, told me about the current state of media and news organizations, about what it’s like starting your own company, etc. No question was too big or too small, and he even helped me narrow down some story ideas I had for the desk.

Maybe I could have gotten these answers from anyone. But talking to someone who was in my exact same shoes however many years ago provided me with a valuable perspective on both how to manage my desk now and what life is like after the DTH, in the real world. Knowing that I can go to my mentor about whatever questions I may have and receive an honest answer is extremely helpful, and something that I don’t take for granted.  Everyone I know who has a DTH mentor has benefitted in similar ways, and this program is truly one of things that makes the DTH such a wonderful thing to be a part of.

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